Residency

Interns' handoff communication often falls short, study says

Residency Program Insider, March 23, 2010

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The psychology of miscommunication may be at the heart of why first-year residents’ handoffs are often ineffective, a new study says.

Researchers from the University of Chicago interviewed pediatric interns at the institution to determine whether the postcall interns (delivers of information) can correctly estimate the amount of patient care information and rationale the on-call (recipients of information) interns received during handoffs.

Researchers found that the postcall intern failed to effectively communicate the most important piece of information about the patient 60% of the time. However, the postcall intern believed that it was communicated. Additionally, the postcall and on-call interns disagreed on the rationales provided for 60% of the time. 

Study authors say that communication psychology may play a big role in the discrepancy between postcall interns’ perceived and actual performance. One cause for miscommunication can be that speakers believe listeners understand more than they actually do.

For more on this study, see the March issue of Pediatrics.
 



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